My last posting I introduced my life long hobby of hockey and my beer league team of the Screaming Eagles. Since that posting I’ve become a lot more in tune of some potential on ice lessons and been on a pretty awesome point streak. In the last post I spoke about how our team doesn’t have a formal coach and how we essentially have to hold each other accountable as peers and I spoke about the brilliance and effectiveness of that. However, two games after that one our team organizer as I’ll call him, John Grobanopoulos (Grobo), not to be mistaken with George Strombolopolous (Strombo) who is another lifelong school mate, missed a game. We joked prior to the game as we were getting dressed that his presence on the ice probably won’t be missed as we had several of our more talented players in attendance but what took place even before the puck dropped was noticeable and as a result reminded me of some valuable lessons in leadership and organizational behavior.
Right after warm up it was time for the puck drop and one of my team mates yelled out “what are the lines?” and all I heard was silence, I knew immediately we may be in for a long night. John although not the formal coach, looks after all the administration and setting of the lines, we were lost right off the bat, nobody seamlessly took over what might be a menial task yet an important one that can set the tone for the game and ultimately be the difference between winning and losing. After some comical back and forth and mass confusion of who was starting even after we organized the lines we finally dropped the puck. After we observed the pace and assessed our opponent, it was clear that our speed and talent far exceeded theirs and we should be able to easily defeat them. However, without Grobo on the bench to make game observations to see who was on and which pairs were clicking, we suffered from a lack of discipline, taking too many penalties and ultimately not moving our feet enough. Since we had more talent we kept it close and went late into the game holding a one goal advantage yet we let that slip away with only mere seconds left in the game. This meant overtime which was also Grobo’s responsibility to decide who the best players of the night were and who deserved to play the extra session and ultimately give us the best chance to win. Well needless to say especially since we were shaken by giving the late game tying goal, confusion and ego prevailed and we entered the overtime period as discombobulated as we had started the game and it took only 30 second for our weaker opponent to finish us off and emerge victorious.
As the screaming eagles retired to the dressing room and did what we do best (yell and drink beer), I sat and reflected and couldn’t help but notice how the lack of at least some organization, guidance and gentle accountability can be fatal to any team or organization. It’s not always about being a charismatic game changing vocal leader who can quote all of Jack Welch’s books, sometimes all that is needed is someone who can keep order and eliminate confusion within an organization. Upon John’s return when he asked how we lost to such a weaker opponent everybody chimed in with some excuses but I paid John a compliment and said we really missed him, and not necessarily his fierce back checking (he will resent that sarcastic comment) but his leadership. Like the humble effective business and team leader that he is, he shrugged it off and taught me another lesson when he comically said “The key to leading or motivating a bunch of type A personalities is simply to out yell them”. Can’t say I ever thought about that but at The Wish Group I lead several Presidents and a management team of over 20 type A’s and come to think of it I do yell a lot. It’s an old biblical saying yet it’s true, without leadership regardless of its form a group or organization striving to achieve a task will perish or at least not be merely as effective as it can be. I encourage each of you to reflect on times where nobody takes leadership of a situation and observe what occurs, it may be enlightening, and maybe that will motivate you to step up and take the leadership, because often leadership isn’t given, it’s taken.